On April 7 the UK government introduced their “British Energy Security Strategy”. The publishing of the strategy was accelerated by the crisis in Ukraine. It made it clear that the UK is very dependent on foreign sources of energy, primarily gas, oil, and coal.
With energy prices on the rise globally, this has resulted in rising energy costs for British households. As a result, one of the focus points within the new strategy is to provide £9 billion toward helping families struggling with their energy bills.
In my opinion, paying for consumer bills is not the most important part of the strategy. Rather focusing on the commitment, the UK government has in supplying affordable, clean, and safe energy as a strategy toward reaching NET ZERO by 2050.
Highlights of the New Strategy
The strategy states that 90% of UK homes are heated by fossil fuels and account for a third of the UK gas use total. The government is seeking to improve household energy efficiency by reducing the amount of energy that households need. They seek to invest £6 billion in decarbonizing homes and buildings. The decarbonization of homes will primarily be done by stimulating the use of low-carbon heating technologies like heat pumps, hydrogen, and heat networks, while also replacing current natural gas boilers.
Oil & gas
It is estimated that the UK will reduce its gas use by 2050 to about a quarter of the gas we use now. Gas is envisioned as an important part of the transition towards a more renewable energy future. The Strategy also makes commitments to use oil and gas in the North Sea which gives the fossil energy field a new lease of life. Investing in the development of new technologies like hydrogen and carbon capture in the empty North Sea fields is also a part of the strategy.
A major component of the Strategy is the £100 billion in private sector investment to help support the government’s “Ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution”. The plan focuses on increasing climate ambition in the following area:
- Advancing offshore wind
- Driving the growth of low carbon hydrogen
- Delivering new and advanced nuclear power
- Accelerating the shift to zero-emission vehicles
- Green public transport, cycling, and walking
- ‘Jet zero’ and green ships
- Greener buildings
- Investing in carbon capture, usage, and storage
- Protecting our natural environment
- Green finance and innovation
There is a commitment to increasing the current capacity for offshore wind from the current 10GW to 50GW by 2030, including 5GW of innovative floating wind.
After decades of disinvesting in nuclear energy, a decision has been made to invest in nuclear energy again, increasing nuclear capacity up to 24GW by 2050, which is 3 times more compared to the current capacity.
My take on strategy
The commitments with respect to the investment in offshore wind and energy efficiency are great from a level of emission perspective. Improving the energy efficiency of UK homes is also great. Personally, I have doubts if the stated goals will be reached on time.
Many people in the UK have doubts about giving the oil and gas energy fields in the North Sea a new lease of life. There seems to be no understanding of why the government needs to invest in new fossil fuel projects. Building a new generation of nuclear reactors is also what divides a lot of people in the UK, especially over safety concerns and the long permitting process.
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This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard UK Country Manager Derk Hordijk